Elizabeth Inchbald, A Simple Story (1791), pp. 8-9

An early description of Dorriforth:

But that the reader may be interested in what Dorriforth says and does, it is necessary to give some description of his person and manners. His figure was tall and elegant, but his face, except a pair of dark bright eyes, a set of white teeth, and a graceful fall in his clerical curls of dark brown hair, had not one feature to excite admiration--he possessed notwithstanding such a gleam of sensibility diffused over each, that many people mistook his face for handsome, and all were more or less attracted by it--in a word, the charm that is here meant to be described is a countenance--on his countenance you beheld the feelings of his heart--saw all its inmost workings--the quick pulses that beat with hope and fear, or the placid ones that were stationary with patient resignation. On this countenance his thoughts were pictured, and as his mind was enriched with every virtue that could make it valuable, so was his honest face adorned with every emblem of those virtues--and they not only gave a lustre to his aspect, but added a harmonious sound to all he uttered; it was persuasive, it was perfect eloquence, whilst in his looks you beheld his thoughts moving with his lips, and ever coinciding with what he said.

Inchbald gives us an example, plainly, of the sentimental ideal of transparent expression: what Dorriforth IS is written on his countenance; his character reveals itself. What's peculiar about this early description, however, is that the remaining text does not bear it out so well--we will see him hide his buried "hopes" for Miss Millner; we will see his "patient resignation" turn into tyrannical stubborness. Dorriforth is anything but a transparent character.

Related terms:

dictionary of sensibility
term list
source bibliography
critical bibliography